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internet addiction

8/30/12 10:52am

Scientists Find Genetic Link to Web Addiction

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It's not your fault. Photo via

In what could be a major step forward in understanding Internet addiction, scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany say they’ve found a genetic link to problematic web use. In a new study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers examined 132 people displaying “problematic Internet use,” as defined by a daily obsession with going online, and feeling impaired or distressed when denied access to the web. The researchers then compared the genes of this Internet-addicted group with a non-addicted control group set, and found that the Internet addicts were likely to carry the gene mutation CHRNA4—which is also linked to nicotine addiction. “There are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction,” said study researcher Christian Montag. “If such connections are better understood, this will also result in important indications for better therapies.” The CHRNA4 gene plays a role in activating the reward system in the brain, dispersing "feel-good" chemicals when an individual participates in activities such as sex, eating, and sleeping. Of those in the web-addicted group, the gene was notably more prevalent in women than men. “Within the group of subjects exhibiting problematic Internet behavior this variant occurs more frequently...in women,” said Montag. “The sex-specific genetic finding may result from a specific subgroup of Internet dependency, such as the use of social networks or such.” The researchers say that more studies need to be conducted to further validate these findings.

 

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

8/30/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 30, 2012

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A naked coke party is a whole other
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By May Wilkerson

Cough Syrup

8/29/12 5:00pm

Jail-Bound Beanie Siegel Arrested on Drug, Gun Rap

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In trouble again Photo via

It seems like Philly rapper Beanie Sigel hasn’t been able to catch a break since that murder rap he beat back in 2005. He violated probation in 2008 when he got busted giving a fake urine sample to his probation officer, after repeatedly testing positive for pills, and was recently convicted for dodging the Tax Man. Now, Sigel’s been popped again—this time for possessing a gun, pills and codeine cough syrup after a late-night traffic stop just outside Philadelphia. Sigel has rapped about his love of pharmaceuticals—particularly Percocet and the hustler-beloved “pancakes and syrup” combination of Xanax and codeine cough medicine. The Fix previously reported on the dealer’s drugs of choice: Biggie’s admonition to "never get high on your own supply” holds true for those selling “hard drugs” like crack and heroin, but benzos, pain pills, codeine syrup, PCP and mega-powered specialty weed are seen as fair game. Beanie’s new album just dropped yesterday, so it’s unclear whether he was out partying to celebrate, or just preparing to surrender himself to the Feds on September 12 to do two years in prison for tax evasion.

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By Jeff Deeney

Mexican drug war

8/29/12 4:05pm

What's the CIA Up to in Mexico?

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Two CIA agents were wounded in last week's
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Two CIA agents were wounded when Mexican police opened fire on a US embassy car outside Mexico City last week, it's been revealed. And Mexican politicians are holding a hearing today, demanding clarification of the shadowy role of US intelligence in the country's drug war. "The Mexican government must give a complete report on what the CIA is doing here, with whom it is working and what is the extent of its work," says Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, telling reporters that "everything is in the dark." Since President Felipe Calderon took office six years ago, his administration has worked closely with Washington to combat drug trafficking; at least 50,000 have meanwhile been killed during the war with the cartels. Calderon has expressed regret over the latest incident and promised an investigation. Analysts claim the presence of US agents in Mexico has surged, but Calderon has refused to disclose details; it's against Mexican law for foreign operatives to take arms in the country. The DEA has been linked to excessive violence in Latin America—and the involvement of the military, and now the CIA, is also suspected. "Of course many of these operations are taking place, and of course they are bypassing the legal framework in doing so," says Columbia University security expert Edgardo Buscaglia. "The expansion of the US presence within Mexican soil is unprecedented. We are reaching levels—not in terms of soldiers but in terms of American intelligence—that are close to Afghanistan."

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By May Wilkerson

Addiction and the Brain

8/29/12 2:59pm

New, Non-Addictive Drug Could Beat Depression

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Is ALKS 5461 the answer? Photo via

A drug currently undergoing clinical trials may represent a vital breakthrough against major depression and anxiety disorders like PTSD and OCD. Crucially, "ALKS 5461" could offer the mood-enhancing and anxiety-lowering effects of opiates without leading to addiction. It's a combination of two molecules: buprenorphine and ALKS 33—which is there specifically to interfere with bupe’s ability to bind to receptors in the brain and make people feel euphoric and crave more. In a placebo-controlled study, ALKS 5461 was given to 32 patients with major depression; all of them responded positively within a week. The combo reportedly even worked for patients who'd had no luck with traditional antidepressants like Prozac and Effexor. “If ALKS 5461 comes to market (and I believe it will), then that scourge we call major depression will be dealt a massive blow,” writes psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, who wasn't involved in the study. "It will still be imperative to use insight-oriented psychotherapy to get to the bottom of what unique psychological issues have fueled each person’s depression, but that should be easier—not harder—when folks aren’t struggling just to get out of bed and over to their psychiatrists’ offices.” It's not the first time scientists have tried to block the brain's addiction-related receptors; US and Australian researchers recently discovered how to block one specific receptor using plus-naloxone, while still allowing pain relief. ALKS 5461 is being developed by Alkermes Pharmaceuticals, the company behind anti-addiction drug Vivitrol.  

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By Chrisanne Grise

Addiction Treatment

8/29/12 1:57pm

Korea Treats Addiction With Cats, Hedgehogs

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The pets are a step towards forging human
relationships. Photo via

South Korea has implemented the world's most adorable addiction treatment. The government-funded Korea Internet Addiction Center (KIAC) is giving out "animal companions" to those diagnosed with Internet addiction in the online gaming-obsessed nation, to help them learn to form bonds with living beings. The project, which began in May, is based on a US report that animal-assisted therapy could help people suffering from physical or mental problems—including addiction. “We give out the pets for free and also provide 200,000 won for food and vaccinations. There are choices of animals other than dogs or cats, such as rabbits and hedgehogs,” says KIAC researcher and counselor Seo Bokyung. Applicants meet with a counselor before receiving their pets, and sign a pledge not to abuse or abandon the animals. After receiving their pets, they must hand in a monthly journal to the center about their relationship with their animal, and receive monthly visits from KIAC officials. “Animals help addicts turn their attention from the Internet and focus on the living being in front of them. They can build relationships with the animals through communication, exchange of emotions, and by taking care of them," says Seo Bo-kyung. "Such practices on forming and maintaining relationships will also help their human relationships, as addicts usually have problems interacting with people as well.” 

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By May Wilkerson

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